A rut is a dark and slimy ditch, isn’t it? It drags you in and stifles you. To pull yourself out of it, newly found motivation, inspiration, confidence and dedication is necessary, all of which can be triggered through collaboration.
Yes, a tried and trusted way out of the pit is to partner up. Tapping in and feeding off of another songwriter’s creative drive will give you the boost you need to rise to the task once again. Art is often inspired by art. Artists tend to stimulate and inspire each other when forces collide. Therefore, I intend to convince you that collaborating can be a lifesaver.
What’s the rut about?
A songwriting rut can stem from a number of things. All of a sudden you strangely prefer chopping carrots to sitting down and composing. Perhaps writer's block has you procrastinating. Perhaps everything you produce has started sounding the same and you feel like you’re losing your mind. Perhaps a blow to your confidence has left you doubting your own abilities as a songwriter. Perhaps you get stuck on the wrong side of an impossible challenge that is draining and discouraging you.
Perhaps a combination of the above is making you slide deeper down the ditch. The nasty rut ensures that you’re properly stuck and that nothing gets done. Collaboration can help you out of this messy wash of emotions.
Collab to conquer procrastination
Writer’s block, the big inspiration of procrastination, likes to come to visit from time to time. However, when collaborating, your responsibility to be accountable, to suit up and show up, doesn’t give procrastination much playtime. For a collaboration to be successful, and pulled off as professionally as possible, goals need to be set and met between the two of you in tandem. Waiting around for creativity to strike, or not, won’t do. Creativity requires hard work. Co-writing demands professionalism. Writer’s block won’t survive in these conditions.
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Collab to reawaken diversity
When you’re out of ideas and all your songs start sounding the same, it’s time to change things up. To achieve a new unique result, you have to welcome a unique approach. Since no two songwriters follow the same process, collaborating naturally forces a new process by default. A unique process as an amalgamation of your own and the collaborating artists' processes will give life to a new workflow holding fresh potential.
Collab to establish creative confidence
When your confidence has taken a blow and all the songs start sounding rubbish, it’s a sure sign that you need some help. Downright insecurities can make you doubt what you are most passionate about. Collaboration brings a second pair of peaked ears to acutely listen to your ideas and a voice to guide you and help you grow them. New achievements, as a result, will boost your confidence.
Collab to overcome obstacles
Encountering an obstacle you can’t surpass or a puzzle you just can’t seem to solve, the frustration can cause severe discouragement. When you’re feeling discouraged to finish a song, or to begin a song, you’re in trouble. When collaborating, you have a musician at your side that could teach you something new to help you over the rocks and through the riddles. If the both of you are struggling with something, you can make your way through it as a team, helping one another to figure things out.
Collab to move on
When you’re becoming precious over things that just aren't working, all to your song’s detriment, it’s time to consider letting go. Things you are precious over will often get in your way when you’re writing a song. In a co-writing scenario, you’ll need to fail quickly in order to move on to brighter ideas. A partnership demands flexibility and willingness to let things go the moment it proves futile. It’s critical for better ideas to take shape fast.
Nothing needs to be set in stone. Mix, merge, stir, and finally metamorphize sonic ideas between the two of you to achieve a new sound.
Don’t snap, sync
The voice in your head telling you to “snap out of it” is wasting its breath. In fact, we want to avoid any and all kinds of snapping and lean into syncing instead.
The creative exchange between two songwriters will teach you new things about songwriting and new things about yourself. It is the ideal opportunity to contribute to your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses. It will also allow you the opportunity to teach what you know, allowing the collaborating artists to grow new skills in parallel to you.
It’s time to come up for air and rekindle your passion for music creation through collaboration.
Carla Malrowe is an avid alternative songwriter and vocalist from South Africa. Her electro-industrial project, Psycoco, just released their new single “Stay Awake.” Malrowe’s music is a haunting juxtaposition of electronic and analogue sounds with lyrics that explore a post-apocalyptic conflict between love and loss.
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